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Michael Fitzmaurice, Finian McGrath, and Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance leaving Government Building after talks with Fine Gael yesterday.
End game

We *might* get a government this week, but independent TDs still aren't sure

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs and senators will meet today to see if they will endorse a deal reached last week.

TDS AND SENATORS From Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will meet today to discuss a deal reached by their parties on a Fine Gael-led minority government.

Both parliamentary parties will meet separately at Leinster House to decide if they will back the agreement, which was reached last Friday.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael will continue its meetings with independent TDs to see if it can make up the numbers to form a minority government – Enda Kenny’s party still needs to get six independent TDs on board.

Both sides have said they are pushing to reach as deal as soon as possible.

Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney had previously said he expects a new government to be in place by Thursday.

Not everyone is convinced of this, however, with a number of independent TDs saying there are many issues yet to be discussed.

‘Hopefully this week’ 

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Denis Naughten, a member of the so-called rural alliance, said independent TDs will not see the full agreement until it is signed off on by the parliamentary parties.

Clare TD Michael Harty noted that just two of 16 topics on the table have been debated so far so it would be difficult to discuss the remaining 14 over the next three days.

Naughten said agriculture and housing have been discussed, but many issues remain, including rural development, health services, broadband and justice.

He lost the Fine Gael party whip in 2011 after voting against the government’s plan to downgrade emergency services at Roscommon Hospital.

Naughten said he wants to see a deal reached “as quickly as possible” but he’s “not going to put a finishing date on it”.

“Hopefully this week, but that may not be possible,” he noted, adding that ”we’re a long way off” discussing how many ministers the rural alliance might have.

Read: Vincent Browne: This is the worst possible outcome of the general election

Read: Day 66: Talks continue but Independents warn not to expect a government this week

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